A Practical Approach for Transforming Higher Education

Digital Transformation is more than just integrating and upgrading digital technology or moving to the cloud. It requires a cultural change that enables organizations to continuously challenge current approaches, experiment, fail fast, and learn faster. Establishing this repeatable rhythm separates the leaders from the rest of the pack, but any organization can do it.

However, seizing this opportunity with intent requires an understanding of the obstacles that lie in the way. Transformation challenges are more pronounced in the field of higher education, the vertical industry that institutionalized research and commercially-relevant professional development but has since fallen behind other vertical industries in terms of technology adoption, innovation, and self-disruption. Thus, higher education executives typically need to close a much wider digital maturity gap than organizations that have the full investment, urgency, and backing of their executive teams. Internal and external customers are demanding quicker outcomes, more data to enhance decision-making, and improved user experiences, all while dealing with budget cuts and fewer staff to support it all. Adding to these challenges, it is not uncommon to see dysfunction and distrust within the ranks of higher education senior leadership, and silos between teams and departments.

At Higher Digital, we’ve seen these patterns repeated over and over, and the solution is always the same: foster a new culture of transparency and alignment, where both executive leadership and technology managers partner, compromise, and move forward—together. They collaborate and prioritize the importance of consistently delivering solutions that their customers need. We believe that such alignment is a critical step toward achieving true digital transformation, and this is why we created our own Digital Transformation Management process and engagement methodology.

Our process is Simplified Enterprise Agile™ which we abbreviate as (SEA) to reflect its role as the new operating system for strategic change management and the foundation for our offerings. Leveraging the spirit of Lean Agile methods, (SEA) combines the most effective practices from several common frameworks and dispenses with those that are less relevant and less practical for most enterprises.

Our engagement methodology is (SEA)change, a comprehensive life cycle approach to Digital Transformation Management that:

  • “Jumps into the trench” with our customers;
  • Adapts to your organizational structure;
  • Provides vertical industry-specific “surge expertise,” content, training, and facilitation to methodically conquer strategic change;
  • Simplifies the process of prioritization and communication;
  • Leverages current technology investments;
  • Provides actionable, immediate, and measurable impact;
  • Tightens alignment between leadership and development;
  • Generates much greater value in much less time and with lower cost than traditional digital transformation consultants; and
  • Leaves our customers with the ability to sustain strategic change going forward.

How does it work?

(SEA)change is a business-first methodology that establishes your process for continuous Digital Transformation Management within the life cycle structure that we have proven as a best practice:

Assess / Strategize / Transform / Measure

ASSESS stakeholders and participants to gauge readiness, maturity, alignment, and best available next steps. 

STRATEGIZE to determine the prioritized change imperatives that will provide the highest “return on transformation” (RoT) in pursuit of your enterprise vision.

TRANSFORM your organization, operations, and technology rhythm as you implement strategic change imperatives with (SEA).

MEASURE your change velocity, team alignment, and new value created against specific goals set with your enterprise key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Our (SEA)change methodology is designed to accommodate any change initiative, regardless of size, complexity, or domain. Whether you’re ready to change from the top down with a fresh strategy; bottoms up with new cloud infrastructure; in between with operational system upgrades, migrations or replacements; or all of the above, (SEA)change provides the process, training, and results needed by your stakeholders. To learn more about specifics, see our listing of sample engagements.

Many of our clients start out by implementing (SEA)change within a specific department or division, then expand their efforts more broadly once that first team has achieved positive results. When other groups within an organization see such rapid progress delivering value, they become very receptive to adopting the approach so that they can see change and results within their part of the enterprise. They realize that the process isn’t as hard as they thought it would be, and opt to develop this new digital transformation muscle with their stakeholders.

Sea Change white paper thumbnail

To learn more about our process, please read the (SEA)Change white paper written by Higher Digital Founder and COO, Colleen E. Baker.


Case Studies

Many organizations have leveraged Higher Digital (SEA)change engagements to produce rapid, measurable, positive results. To review some examples, check out our Customers page.